Cannabis Plants in Rows

In 2018, the Constitutional Court of South Africa legalised the recreational use of cannabis, giving adults the right to privately use, possess, and cultivate cannabis for personal consumption in any private space. Also, the development of the South African medical cannabis industry has led to larger commercial operations being able to grow medicinal THC flower under license from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA)

These developments have opened the country up to various new possibilities, including importing cannabis seeds from the UK. Importing seeds into South Africa from countries like the UK allows growers to access better prices and a larger variety of strains and high-quality genetics.

Despite recent progressive law changes, some aspects of cannabis seed importation remain in a grey area, while legal seed imports for the medical sector are still tangled in red tape. Complex regulations and extensive documentation requirements make all cannabis seed imports challenging, particularly for anyone with little previous experience. Non-compliant seed parcels will be seized by customs, likely resulting in additional fees, long delays and in the worst cases, confiscation.

Rules on Importing Cannabis Seeds: UK to South Africa

Imported cannabis seeds must pass through the procedures set out by the National Plant Protection Organisation of South Africa (NPPOZA). NPPOZA is in control of all plant and seed-related imports and enforces the necessary import conditions as laid out in the Agricultural Pests Act of 1983.

Legal imports of cannabis seeds intended to be used for the cultivation of medical cannabis are also overseen by SAHPRA. SAHPRA is responsible for the regulation and licensing of all health products intended for human or animal use.

The rules that importers must follow to import cannabis seeds to South Africa successfully are as follows:

  • Importers must be registered with NPPOZA.
  • Importers must hold a SAHPRA license.
  • All relevant authorities must be notified of the intent to import.
  • The seed must be free from pests and diseases.
  • The importer must hold all the correct licenses and permissions required by the exporting countries.

By rigorously following both national and international rules, importers can confidently and legally introduce a diverse range of cannabis seeds to the South African market, contributing to its fast-growing cannabis industry.

What Must the Importer Do?

To successfully import cannabis seeds from the UK to South Africa and have them pass through customs without delay, there are four main tasks an importer must complete:

  • Hold a license with SAHPRA – All companies intending to legally grow cannabis for medical use in South Africa must be licensed by SAHPRA. This will include notifying them of your intent to import seeds and providing details about the shipment.
  • Apply for an import permit with the NPPOZA – The permit lasts a year and registers you as an importer of plants, seeds and related items. You may also need to provide additional information about each import as well as providing proof that all your shipments meet the necessary phytosanitary standards.
  • Work with a properly licensed UK exporter – If you’re working with a UK-based seed bank or exporter, you’ll need to ensure that they’re registered with the UK Plant Agency (APHA) and have all the necessary licenses to legally export seeds from the UK. They will also need to:
    • Properly prepare the shipment with a commercial invoice – Most properly licensed seed banks or breeders will pack your seeds as per export/import requirements and create a commercial invoice showing detailed information about your seeds.
    • Submit the seeds to APHA for testing – Once notified, APHA will collect the seeds and send them to their approved testing lab.
    • Receive the Phytosanitary Certificate from APHA – Following successful testing, APHA will issue the phytosanitary certificate.
    • Compile all necessary documentation – At this point, they will have all the information you need and can proceed with compiling the required documentation.
  • Send a copy of your import permit to your UK exporter – The details on the import permit will allow the exporter to confirm that the prepared shipment is compliant with the requirements for legal import into South Africa. They will also need to present this to the APHA as part of the phytosanitary certification process.

How Can CannaEx Trades Make This Process Easier?

With many regulations surrounding cannabis seed legality still being relatively uncertain, the process of importing cannabis seeds from the UK into South Africa is still challenging. Even after the 2018 legalisation of cannabis for private recreational use, shipments of cannabis seeds still require complicated documentation and face high levels of scrutiny at the border. By far the best way to ensure a successful, compliant shipment of cannabis seeds to South Africa is to work with an experienced partner like CannaEx Trades.

At CannaEx Trades, we have many years of experience in transporting cannabis seeds and flowers into and out of South Africa. We know exactly what to do to ensure success and have all the necessary registrations and licenses to streamline the process. Not only are we the only UK company with all the required government licenses to export cannabis seeds to South Africa legally, but we also already have an extensive network of partners to support you through every step of the transportation and cultivation process.

With more than two decades of industry expertise, CannaEx Trades is well-equipped to provide a comprehensive range of services, from genetic guidance to smooth end-to-end delivery. Our extensive network of partners allows us to access the finest offerings the industry has, all at the most competitive prices. As intermediaries, we offer the flexibility to cater to your specific needs, whether it’s handling phytosanitary certificate applications or overseeing and optimising the entire export/import procedure.

All seeds purchased through us are derived from Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd) free parents and pre-tested by the UK Plant Agency to ensure a pristine start for your projects.

To find out more, reach out to us at the contact details below or via the contact form.